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seeking wedding venue advice

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I'm from Vancouver originally but fiancé and I both live in NYC. We had a few short days in YVR and checked out some wedding venues on the recommendation of friends.

Can be either afternoon or eve wedding in Aug 2012 for maybe 70-80 people. Ceremony + reception. Front-runners are Hycroft Manor, Tea House and Hart House.

Obviously budget is a concern but we want to make sure if we're spending that the food is good, beautiful view for out-of-towners and if possible easy to plan. My family and friends are big foodies so don't want to fall short on this part. Looking at the menus of some of above, they seemed basic. We loved setting of Tea House but menu looked meh but I didn't get a chance to taste to really know.

Questions:
- Does anyone have experience w/weddings at above shortlist?
- Does catering provide better food? Is there a caterer you'd recommend?
- Other places I should consider? Does not have to be in Vancouver if food/venue options outside of city are great. Brock house too big, Van Dusen/Museum Antropology, pushing our budget too far.

Any advice and input would be so helpful! Thanks.

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  1. Hart House has a new chef, Alana Peckham (ex-Cru) as of 6-8 weeks ago. Her menu may seem basic (/classic) but she's good at it and her food is pretty delicious. She might also work with you for a special menu, too - when at Cru the Valentine's Day and NYE special set meals were very elegant (haven't had her wedding menu but imagine it would be similar to those).

    Best of luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: reiney

      Aug 2012?

      Or 2013?

      Because two weeks as of today is cutting it rather fine.

      1. re: Sam Salmon

        Doh! Typo, I meant 2013. And I'd been to Cru several times while visiting and always loved it!

    2. I've been to Hycroft ... beautiful setting. Food dished out in basement so you have to walk up/down stairs. Perhaps a problem if you have people that are less mobile. That was awhile ago so things may have changed (or not). If the weather is nice then people hang out outside which really made the wedding IMO.

      Keep in mind that Hycroft is haunted real good. (lol) Just FYI if that matters.

      No experience with Hart or Tea house for a wedding, sorry.

      1. We had the same requirements as you for our wedding: Vancouver/view, right size (ours was a bit smaller at 60) and great food. Epic fail on the final item at all the view places that provided food so we opted to hire a caterer and get married by the Vancouver Museum. The room we used is no longer available, alas, but you could drop them a line and see what they have on offer. Hard to beat the location as the landscaping is perfect for photos and you're less than a block from the beach with the iconic mountain backdrop.

        Another place to check out if you want to hire caterers is Aberthau Mansion. It's run by the Board of Parks. https://www.google.ca/search?q=aberth...

        Christophe Kwiatkowski did our catering through the now-defunct Dubrulle Culinary School and the food was phenomenal. He worked with us to tailor the menu to our (my picky) needs and even arranged to cook the meat a la minute using on-site bbqs. He is now at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver http://www.nwcav.com/ (that's him on the right) but I have no idea if they still do this kind of catering.

        Hiring a caterer does add a layer of logistics that you may find is too complex for your needs. If so maybe taking a flyer on Alana Peckham might be worth the convenience, though I don't find Hart House a particularly convenient location.

        Best of luck and congrats!

        4 Replies
        1. re: grayelf

          Chef Christophe still caters under the brand Le Zeste
          http://www.lezeste.com

          1. re: reiney

            Ooh, brilliant, reiney, thanks for the link! Dunno why I didn't get it on my search (duh) but I'm thrilled to know for sure he is still doing catering. That is the beauty of a chef-run catering school I guess.

            Good tip, Anne, to check whether the caterer has a list of places they cater at (also worth calling as I think most places will make arrangements if the caterer is competent!). Interesting how few of the locations linked to by Culinary Capers have views -- this drove me crazy when we were looking for our venue. I guess it's similar to the "view restos don't have good food" or the "Vancouver doesn't have good well priced seafood" curse :-).

            As for Culinary Capers, we used them a fair bit through work and their food is competent plus they show up which is key. A bit pricey for what they do, but then catering is not cheap.

          2. re: grayelf

            These are excellent suggestions. Thanks so much! Thanks for sharing your research!

            1. re: grayelf

              +1 on Chef Christophe :-) Glad to see his Zeste still going strong. He taught several of the classes I took at NWCAV ...... very nice fella, along with Chef Tony.

              LOL, they still use many of the photos I snapped in the Serious Foodies classes :-D

              http://www.nwcav.com/gallery.php#/con...

            2. Congratulations and good luck!

              I hope I'm not confusing things but if you are considering a caterer they all have good lists of venues available on their websites. I haven't used them but, for for example only, here's a venue list on the Culinary Capers website: http://www.culinarycapers.com/venues/...

              1. Unrelated to any of your shortlist venues, but another option is the Cecil Green Park House at UBC, very close to the Museum of Anthropology. We got married at CG House back in 1994 (OMG, it's been that long ?!?!?) on the Labor Day long weekend, with perfect weather etc. And our wedding party was also between 70-80 people.

                http://www.cecilgreenpark.ubc.ca/

                http://www.cecilgreenpark.ubc.ca/even...

                DO book in advance, this place is popular. We inquired in January 1994 and the first availability was for the day we got married (yes, venue booking dictated our wedding day).

                Service was top notch. Catering in those days was done by UBC Catering exclusively, but with option of bringing our own wine/liquor which we did. I believe their catering is now thru Wescadia, a spin-off of UBC Catering:

                http://www.cecilgreenpark.ubc.ca/faci...

                http://www.catering.ubc.ca/our-menus

                Can't recall the package we got back then, which was obviously quite different than the current ones. But it was predominantly hors d'oeuvre to maximize guests mingling and moving about, and I believe was in the $25/pp (food-only) range.

                Wedding cake was a 3-tiered St. Honore (hey, I like cream puffs, ok ?) from the now defunct Carmelo's on Commercial Drive.

                Ooops, I've slipped and fell unto a long memory lane ....... ;-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Nice! We drove by on our way to M. Anthropology and I noticed it but have never been. Thanks for tips and details.

                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    I was at a wedding at Cecil Green in May and it was spectacular. Beautiful setting. Food was nothing over the top, but everything was very tasty and well executed for a party of 80 or so. As far as I know you cannot bring in your own caterers there.

                    That being said, if you wanted spectacular food, perhaps two of my favorite caterers? Kale and Nori Culinary Arts or Butter on the Endive Catering. Both have terrific chefs and the bonus on Kale and Nori is the potential for cocktail pairings from one of the best bartenders in these parts.

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I got married at Cecil Green Park House last year, and while our wedding was wonderful...I don't have the most positive things to say about the catering.

                      My number one complaint is that they were not accommodating. We were planning our wedding from another province, so because we were not in the city to taste the food during a scheduled day, we did not get to try the food until the day of the wedding. I found them to be quite ignorant of food allergies. We were also not allowed to bring in our own alcohol.

                      The venue was beautiful. However, there are many MANY restrictions in order to preserve this heritage house.

                      1. re: focioncroci

                        Thanks for that feedback. I've looked into all of the options suggested by posters here and a friend of mine weighed in heavily for Cecil Green too. It's a front runner (of the week and i'm sure it'll change) but I'm going to be in the same boat as you were as we're organizing from NYC which makes the entire process more complicated.

                        When I called Wescadia caterers I spoke to someone utterly blasé and rude. I'm almost ready to just spin this important event into a really nice BBQ in the park somewhere :-).

                    2. I'd throw Arbutus Club into the mix. We got married there about 3 months ago now and were very happy. The food was very good - we had perfectly cooked ling cod and beef (mid-rare, consistent across the board), and tasty crab cakes for appetizer. The service was impeccable.

                      Prices are about as reasonable as you'll get for Vancouver wedding venues as well (3 course plated dinner for $45/head, though it will probably go up by next year).

                      The view from the patio overlooks a residential area so not as spectacular as mountains or ocean obviously, but it was still quite nice at night.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jerkstore

                        Ok, thanks! So many beautiful options.

                        1. re: jerkstore

                          The only view I remember at my wedding was of my beautiful bride [grin] .......

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            you just earned quite a few bonus points - that's a very sweet comment

                          2. re: jerkstore

                            I was at the Vancouver Lawn and Tennis Club for a function this afty. Just sandos with the crusts off and petits fours but very nice indeed. Not exactly a view but a lovely venue. You may have to have a member for ins but worth a look/call...

                          3. One thing about Cecil Green is that it's tucked away from regular and tourists lookee-loos traffic (which Hart House is not immune to), guests parking is no issue, the house is big (but not disproportionately so) and the grounds immaculate to mingle on. And IF say you ever might consider some apres-reception party down at Spanish Banks beach or wherever, you can do that too pretty easily.

                            When we scoped out our venues options, we considered these aspects:

                            - location (easy to find for out-of-towners)
                            - noise (adjacent neighbourhood, traffic from roadways, etc)
                            - parking
                            - accessibility (physical disability)
                            - duration of booking and how that affects scheduling of other events on-site
                            - ambiance (view, privacy, building style/architecture)
                            - cost
                            - date
                            - catering

                            There might have been more criteria (yes I'm details-oriented), but to be honest the food ranked kind of low in the overall scheme of things (as long as the catering is not some mom & pop amateurs) esp. when we specified hors d'oeuvres and it's not something that can get screwed up that bad (I hope). At the end of the day, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts, and everyone had a great time (I don't even remember what I ate ........ LOL).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              I coordinated a sit-down wedding reception at Cecil Green ten years ago and the one drawback (apart from the food which was meh) was there wasn't enough room in the atrium for all the tables, so a couple had to be set out in the great hall. Made for a disconnect during the speeches for sure but a canape reception would be v. nice there.

                            2. Haven't seen it mentioned yet so I'll hazard the groans and toss Grouse Mountain into the mix. :)
                              http://www.grousemountain.com/weddings

                              If you get a clear day the views are obviously amazing. If you get the right chef up there the food will be pretty good. And they do this a lot so service and organization are usually quite professional.

                              I mention right chef as they have more than one venue and will do a custom menu for you. I don't know who the "right" chef is, but do know quality can be hit and miss at the peak sometimes. Could be worth investigating though.

                              Good luck and congrats.

                              Oh, if you're open to it there are amazing places on the Island such as Sooke and Tofino for doing wedding and some of the surrounding smaller islands as well.

                              Cheers.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Jzone

                                Good suggestion and friends have definitely mentioned Grouse Mtn. I was at a cocktail reception during winter months years back and felt crammed in. But weather is everything isn't it and turns the city into an unbeatable paradise. Thanks for all the suggestions!

                                1. re: lily369

                                  Just thought of Horizons Restaurant on top of Burnaby Mountain. Never been to a wedding reception there, so it's a mere idea, but they appear to do them regularly:

                                  http://www.horizonsrestaurant.com/ind...

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    My alum! Thanks for the suggestion.

                                  2. re: lily369

                                    Ooops, another one is UBC Botanical Gardens (which we looked into):

                                    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/eve...

                                2. We had our wedding 6 years ago at Seasons in Queen Elizabeth Park. While the food wasn't outstanding it was very good and we were able to create our own menu options from their existing dining menu IIRC. The view was gorgeous and we were able to book both the Gazebo room and the room underneath it (connected by a spiral staircase) which was wonderful. We had our ceremony upstairs, cocktails and appies downstars while they turned the upstairs room over for dinner, dinner upstairs and then we had dancing upstairs and served the cake and had a quieter reception area downstairs. The service was amazing and they do a million weddings so it was really easy to plan. The only catch was that we were limited to 66 people for a sit down dinner without booking out the whole restaurant. It wasn't a problem for us but it looks like your numbers might put you over.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: islandgirl

                                    I've never been to Seasons. It sounds like it worked out perfectly! Yeah, we're finding it hard to even keep it at our target of 70. Initially we thought of having it in NYC but many of our US family/friends are rallying for Vancouver! :-)

                                  2. I just had my wedding reception Aug 18 at Bridges on Granville Island and I can't say enough about them. The service was fantastic and the food was great. It might be too pedestrian depending on how big foodies your friends/family are but they have some nice menu choices that everyone raved about. We had a bunch of different passed appetizers during cocktail hour, beef tenderloin and pan-seared halibut as our entree options and everyone LOVED it. Also it turned out that my wedding cake partially melted and the staff took care to fix it, even though they did not provide the cake themselves. Bridges maxes out at about 120 for wedding reception in their upstairs dining room so for 70-80 might be too big - but we had about 95 and barely hit the min F&B spend.

                                    When we were planning our wedding we also looked at Brix but was too small for us - but would be perfect for your group size if you max out at 80-85 including the wedding party. You can do your ceremony in their courtyard which is beautiful. And the food/service there is wonderful as well.

                                    The upside of doing it in a restaurant is that you don't have to worry about plate/glass/silverware/service rentals which drives up the catering costs that no one seems to think about.

                                    Another fun option might be the gallery in the Waterfall building at 1540 W. 2nd Ave near Granville Island, and have it catered, perhaps by Culinary Capers if your budget allows. Also try Jericho Sailing Centre for a fun nautical vibe (without the Yacht Club rental fees) - they have a patio adjacent to their function rooms which would be welcome for an August wedding.

                                    Congrats and good luck!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: firis77

                                      There are definitely more logistics to think about if you hire a caterer, including arranging for the hardware. We did it ourselves to save a bit of dough which turned out to be a mistake as the rental co. delivered the tables, utensils, cloths, chairs etc to the wrong room and we had to move it all down the hall!

                                      Brix is a nice option if it's the right size. Garden is especially lovely at night with the fairy lights. And they have the front window that is slightly elevated that might do for the head table (can't remember what size it is) but no view. Waterfall building is a nice idea too, sorta makes its own view. Happy to hear your reception was perfect at Bridges, firis77, and congratulations on the nuptials! I love their location and view but have not had much luck with the food for regular visits in the last decade or so. Good news that things have improved.

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        I'll have to throw a +1 in for Bridges as well, we were just at a wedding there this past weekend. Never been there before but the general CH opinion of it had me a bit worried. The food, while not life-alteringly interesting, was very well cooked - perfect doneness on both steak and salmon (something that in my experience you don't get at a lot of wedding receptions).

                                        The caesars with pickled sea asparagus were a nice touch as well...and the view at sunset was pretty spectacular.

                                      2. re: firis77

                                        I've been to weddings at Brix and at the Waterfall building.
                                        Brix was great, the courtyard was very cute, and the food was good.
                                        Waterfall is quite small, it was a stand up cocktails and appies wedding, but suited the couple perfectly and was a memorable evening.

                                      3. Other venues where I attended weddings are:

                                        1) Steamworks in Gastown. They have special event rooms segregated from the main areas. We were in the Uber Lounge: http://www.steamworks.com/events
                                        How's that for post-wedding bragging about the name of the venue you got hitched in !

                                        2) Vancouver Museum (just good old "Planetarium" to us old-timers). We were in the Ray Whittick Lounge:
                                        http://www.spacecentre.ca/rentalvenues

                                        3) Delta Deas Island Park:
                                        http://www.metrovancouver.org/service...

                                        4) Minnekhada Lodge (, Minnekhada Park, Port Coquitlam):
                                        http://www.metrovancouver.org/SERVICE...

                                        Of the four above, I think Minnekhada was the most unique and memorable, it felt a bit like some old-world rich tycoon world somewhere in the Midwest or on the shores of the Michigan U.P. :-)

                                        Either way, Metro Vancouver Parks' rates are super reasonable (cheap by most standards) and offer unique environs and vistas. Of course you'd have to arrange catering, but their professional staff readily provide advise and recommendations on caterers if you don't have your own already.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                          We also looked at the Dockside Restaurant at the Granville Island Hotel several years ago.

                                          1. re: islandgirl

                                            Dockside Restaurant may be too big but the lounge/pub side would be perfect size wise. Great views. The fantastic outdoor patio is not exclusive though unless you buy that part out too ($$$). Foodie-wise on par with Bridges.

                                            Or if you are still looking at a catered venue, there's Performance Works on Granville Island as well.

                                            The only thing that's annoying about Granville Island is the parking/traffic but we managed to work around that.

                                        2. Check out the Brock House. I got married there and it was an amazing place to get married. The views, the food.......Everything was truly great.
                                          http://www.brockhouserestaurant.com/

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: waylman

                                            In the original post, she ruled out Brock House for being too big.

                                          2. This venue may be too big for your group, but I got married at Vancouver Club and loved the service and the food. Food was one of our top priorities.

                                            I don't have a lot of ideas about venues for small groups personally, but I've asked my friend who is a wedding planner to get on this thread for suggestions.

                                            1. Mr. StarryFork and I just got married at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, which is a fun venue, but under construction - would not recommend it at the moment.

                                              However, we could not have had more delicious food - from Savoury Chef catering, chef Taryn Wa. I can't recommend them highly enough. Everything was scrumptious, fresh, hot, well executed. Their staff was also really on the ball, polite and efficient. We got a lot of comments from our guests on how great the food was!

                                              1. My $0.02 on Hycroft - it is a beautiful venue, but the only thing that would hold me back (and was a dealbreaker for a friend a few years ago) is that your event must end by 11pm. This may not matter to you but I thought I would mention it... good luck with your planning!

                                                1. I've recently catered at UBC Botanical Gardens. The wedding was 85 guests, and bar catering was handled by Wescadia (rental contract rule). There is an early-ish curfew.
                                                  The upper floor at Monk McQueens on False Creek has been used as event space, and has a lovely overlook to the north short mountains (80 would be max seating capacity).
                                                  The Rowing Club at Stanley Park may allow you to self-cater, and also has in-house catering by The Butler Did It.
                                                  Brix is a great venue; lights in the courtyard are magical.
                                                  Performance Works is a very versatile space, and has a patio, so you could do a bbq themed dinner :) But there is no cooking facility on-site, just fridges. Size would be ok for 80 guests or even more.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                                    We had an office work retreat at the rowing club one year (I organized it, for 14 people attending). Lunch was catered by TBDI. It was horrible. The sandwiches, side salads, mid-AM and mid-PM treats ...... everything was Sysco-tasting, dainty portions and a few people said they had better meals on planes. I formally complained to TBDI a few days after our retreat. They acknowledged our dissatisfaction, sadly only by responding "we are sorry IF our service and products did not meet your expectations ...." or something along those lines, no discounts nor discounts towards future contracts offered. We were not happy (esp. me, I was the foodie of our group). The following year, I booked QE Park's Seasons in the Park (the Summit Room under the restaurant) and we had a fantastic retreat, food, very attentive service, etc. Cost was about the same IIRC.

                                                  2. Another option I don't see mentioned so far..... the John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse in Richmond. It's a lovely modern stucture right on the water.
                                                    http://www.ubcboathouse.com/event-hal...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: GoaGirl

                                                      That's a great looking place always wondered about it whilst cycling by.